Monday, April 21, 2014

Muddy Monday: Reunited in Clay

Is fifty-five years too long to wait for a "boyfriend"? 

As covered in this earlier post, my research indicates that the real mare used for Hagen-Renaker's Roan Lady model had only one recorded mate. This stallion was two-time World Champion, Go Boy's Shadow, and for reasons already discussed, I aimed to sculpt a portrait of him.

I wanted to sculpt him in Trad size (1/9th scale) for the purpose of a resin run that is in scale with my other 2013 resin editions. At the same time, I wanted him to be around mid-DW or classic size (1/12th scale-ish), so that he stood just 1/8th of an inch taller than HR's Roan Lady. The goal was that the ceramics could be plausibly displayed together. After all, Zara has Amir, Sheba has Ferseyn, Erin has Two Bits...

First, I poured a waste mold on the original sculpture, salvaged after the resin edition silicone mold was made by my husband. I had to glue an ear back on, but otherwise went straight into it. 

Original epoxy sculpt clayed up and ready for the first plaster pour.
Waste molds don't have to be big and fancy.

Here comes the plaster!

Many pours later, this is what the cleaned mold looks on the inside, 
several pieces removed for photo.

Left: first generation bisque
Right: 8 3/4" tall original epoxy sculpt, after plaster molding trauma

The previous post about this sculpture mentioned pouring a rubber master. This plan changed. My husband helps with the rubber pouring, but he was swamped with his own work. To stay on schedule, I went forward with a technique that is tested and true, but might be a bit horrifying to ceramic fanciers. It involves destruction! 

I have to pour a "waste" or "clean-out" casting in each mold, to remove any mold soap residue my sponge may have missed, after I pull the original out. This clean-out casting was quite riddled with plaster and soap gunk, and to glaze him would have been folly. I don't want any of that to cause a resist while airbrushing or firing the piece! So, if it is to be used at all, it has only one reliable state: being unglazed bisque. The great thing about bisque is that it loves mold soap. It just yums it right up. A clean-out bisque casting is just the thing to mold off of, when you want to shrink the sculpt down a generation and retain all that first-shot mold detail.

Soaping up the first gen bisque for the next gen plaster moldmaking.
The two dark gray patches are epoxy, filling the vent in belly and a divot on face.

The bisque awaits its final plaster piece pour.

Rather than mold the second generation off a soft rubber, I molded directly off of the first generation bisque out of the waste mold. Its lovely, clean surface was just saturated with mold soap, and even water mist droplets beaded up on it. As each poured piece of plaster cures, it does a little expansion-contraction dance, pressing against the hard bisque that lacks the "give" of a rubber master. If the planes and parting lines have been planned correctly, the two main outer halves, and most of the small pieces, will come away from the bisque in perfect shape, without coaxing. However, the inner leg pieces of a mold with a parallel-legs stance and/or a belly piece between the thighs (like this sculpt) are pressing against two bisque surfaces, locked in place. You can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs, and this holds true for the bisque.

Strategic bisque breaking yields a clean release, with no damage to the plaster.

So, now I have a perfect second generation mold; in fact, it's much better than the waste mold. I made a mistake on a waste mold piece (chest) that I did not repeat on the second mold, which saves me some greenware cleaning grief.

How do the greenware casting measure up to each other? Here they are, dry and raw.

Next, I poured a clean-out casting as before, but this time, in the smaller mold. This casting wasn't perfect, and I could have very easily tossed him away, but I really wanted a black portrait model of my own. Badly. I cleaned every bit of plaster and soap off of him (he was much cleaner than the first guy), ran him through a first bisque, and started the airbrush stages of underglazing him a realistic sunburnt black. In the raw underglaze stage, the color rubs off like pastels on your hands, or any surface where it rests. I use the softest things I can find to handle him, and I try not to sneeze, talk, or cough. Any of that can permanently stain him with moisture drops!

Raw underglazes.

After the bisque fire, his color sharpened up. I then decorated his eyes and details by hand. I love hooves with detail, and it takes some tricks to give them the optic effect of layers of hoof wall.

Bisque underglazes.
Final height: 7 3/8" tall.

Top left: In his prime, showing snip and sock on this side.
Top right: in retirement, showing sunburnt black
Lower Left: in prime, showing other side of sock
Lower Right: completed portrait of retired horse
Real horse images used with permission of webmaster Judy Handel.

Then, I had to spray on satin glaze. Satin hates black underglaze, or vice versa. They don't play well together. It either is a drought, where the black sucks up every bit of glaze and leaves a dry surface, or it's a flood. Then, the glaze looks opaque white or gray, obscuring the true color below. Anxiety over how it would look kept me from sleeping.

I had worried enough to sate the kiln gods, I guess, because he came out as I'd hoped. Many collectors find black horses boring, but you'd be surprised how many colors and layers went into this black. I was so smitten, I took him outside for photographs in his "native environment", a pasture of Tennessee.

This sums up what I wanted to do, and now I am satisfied. I will now make a few of these for sale, in different colors. It will be less painful to part with each one because I have my Go Boy's Shadow. Roan Lady has him, too.

It is fascinating to compare the masculine short back with the mare-long back.
The masculine shoulder and neck is contrasted with the feminine.

The feminine face against the "hard" stallion face.

Overall, he lost 1 3/8", but he gained a whole Lady.

Gratitude to everyone who wrote to me (publicly and privately) about the TWH series of posts, and to those who gave me encouragement in person and on the phone. I'm looking forward to seeing more representations of Heritage TWH in collections and in the model show ring. The availability of this particular sculpture is:

Unpainted trad-size resin (link to ad)
Small trad-size ceramic
Roan Lady-size ceramic

Left to right: original sculpt, small trad-size ceramic, RL-size ceramic with braided forelock customization.

I am the only source producing all of these, at Lucas Francis Studio. You may private message/email me for more information on the ceramics; the resin has all its information in that ad. Thank you for following the progress!